The N95 mask has its reputation built as the most trusted face mask to be worn in this pandemic. Regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), the credibility of the N95 mask in protecting anyone who wears this mask is guaranteed. The N95 mask is able to filter up to 95% of bacteria that are 3.0 microns in size and particles that are 0.1 microns in size.
Types of N95 mask and their difference
There are two types of the N95 mask; the one with a valve and the one without a valve. The most common type of N95 mask that is used in hospitals is the un-valved N95 mask. This is because the seal that it gives cannot endanger a sterile area in the hospital. The only difference with the other type of the N95 mask is the valve. The valved N95 mask is used to aid breathing while protecting the wearer from any microorganism.
What is an exhalation valve?
The exhalation valve is created with engineering and technology. The exhalation valve in valved types of the N95 mask is designed to aid breathing. This is used by individuals who are having a hard time breathing. These people often skip the unvalved N95 mask due to its breathability. Wearing the valved N95 mask makes breathing easier and less hassle.
Is the N95 mask with an exhalation valve safe?
Several news and recommendations from health experts have gone online about wearing the valved N95 mask. Although the valve from these N95 mask types filters the air that is inhaled, the air exhaled is not filtered by the valve. This air that is exhaled contains microorganisms, specifically strains of viruses and bacteria can harm people. This makes the valved N95 mask unsafe for people to wear. Medical workers prefer the unvalved N95 mask. It is because the air that they exhale is filtered by the N95 mask; leaving microorganisms behind the mask. This is also why the medical experts do not wear the valved N95 mask.
Utilizing the valved N95 mask, however, is not valid. In fact, there are fields that use the valved N95 mask more frequently than hospitals. Aside from filtering up to 95% of strains of viruses and bacteria, the N95 mask also can filter dust, smoke, smog, and other tiny particles in the air. The main function of the valve is to aid the breathing of the wearer of the N95 mask. It lessens the struggle of exhaling, giving more convenience to breathing. Also, this N95 mask does not contribute to the accumulation of humidity inside the mask.
Who benefits from the valved N95 mask?
Since the unvalved N95 mask is used widely in hospitals, there are other professional fields that use the valved N95 mask.
In the oil industry, workers also deal with the vapor that comes out of the drilled oil and fuel. There are models of the valved N95 mask that helps in aiding relief from the natural vapor. The natural vapor that is exuded by oil is extremely harmful to the lungs.
Miners deal with dust, smoke, and fine particles of sand from boulders and rocks. These carry toxic elements and compounds that can obstruct a lot of miners’ breathing. Models of the valved N95 mask for this particular work are created to filter even finer pieces of sand and rock. Valved N95 masks allow miners to breathe easily and comfortably.
Carpenters and Masons need the valved N95 mask to prevent themselves from inhaling too much powder from cement, sawdust, and other forms of dust. The valve from the valved N95 mask is perfect for them to ease breathing.
Welding deals more with toxic and volatile gases. Also, welders wear eyepieces for them to be protected from the light that is emitted from the soldering rod. The valved N95 mask is a big help for welders for it does not only aid breathing, but it also helps in eliminating accumulated moisture. This makes the N95 mask even more comfortable. Moreover, the exhaled air is removed so that mist does not build up in their eyewear.
Given the efficiency of the N95 mask, it still experiences scarcity due to the overwhelming demand. This overwhelming demand targeted the unvalved N95 mask. But would that mean that people should wear the un-valved N95 mask? No.
It is because wearing the valved N95 mask can endanger other people who are wearing masks and those who are not. As stated earlier, the air exhaled from the valved N95 mask is not filtered. Unfiltered air means unsafe air. So instead of wearing the valved N95 mask, people should resort to options like surgical masks, KN95 masks, and the FFP masks.
People nowadays should obey the mask mandate that their government had imposed upon them. Thousands of active cases and counting are being reported every day. Along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle is wearing a mask. The mask is there when social/physical distancing is not observed.
Studies have already proven the efficiency of masks in this pandemic. This is your first line of defense against the virus. If you are skipping a mask, better not leave the house. By not leaving the house, it lessens the further spread of the contagion. It also keeps you from being contaminated by the virus.
A mask on is better than no mask.